A colorful ball-shaped top distinguishes moon cactus, a kind of grafted cactus. These little houseplants, known as colorful cacti, are highly manageable. Bright red, yellow, pink, or orange colors are often seen on the cactus top. The look of a brilliantly-colored cactus blossom is given by this bright top. The tops of several of these bright cactus plants are multi-colored or variegated, but the curved veins are covered with little, sharp spines.
Hibotan cactus, red ball cactus, and star flowered cactus are all names for the same moon cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii). A hybrid of two cactus species has been grafted together to create moon cactus. Gymnocalycium mihanovichii, a colorful cactus, is at the top, and any cactus species would be at the bottom. The cactus ball has prominent ribs on it and is typically between 1 and 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) in diameter.
How to care for moon cactus: Put the cactus in a location that is warm and bright. A quick-draining cactus mix should be placed in the pot with draining holes. Just before the potting medium is dry, thoroughly water the plant. To create a robust, colorful cactus, fertilize monthly throughout the spring and summer.
The best soil for moon cactus Water drains well in aerated, sandy soil. Cactus soil may be made by adding pebbles or tiny stones to a potting mix. Cacti, like other succulents, prefer an acidic to neutral potting soil.
Cacti – Slow-growing plants, like the ruby ball cactus, grow between 0.4″ and 1.1″ (1 – 3 cm) each year. Moon cactus plants are typically offered almost fully developed.
Cactus plants can live from 10 to 200 years. Outside cactus plants typically outlive indoor moon cactus plants; nevertheless, with the right care, your indoor moon cactus plant may live for many years.
The life expectancy of the moon cactus is less than that of most cacti. These grafted cactus normally survive for only a few years. The rootstock grows beyond the top portion of the plant, resulting in their shorter lifespan. You’ll need to re-graft the colorful ball cactus onto the rootstock in order to extend their lifespan. You may learn how to care for your moon cactus by regrafting it at the conclusion of this article.
Grafted Cactus Origin
In the wild, the vivid moon cactus (ruby ball cactus) stands out against any backdrop. Native to Paraguay and Argentina, this little cactus plant is tiny. The vibrant red, pink, yellow, and orange hues are completely natural. Mutant Gymnocalycium mihanovichii plants that don’t produce chlorophyll develop these neon-bright colors; they don’t photosynthesize. Cacti and all other forms of plants would perish without chlorophyll. The spherical cactus is grafted onto a regular cactus in order to keep it alive.
Any cactus species may be used to make a colorful moon cactus (Hibotan). Typically, Hylocereus cactus is used for the stock of moon cactus sold in garden shops. The straight stems of these green cacti have a star-shaped cross-section. This plant is known as the star-flower cactus because of its stem shape.
The ruby ball cactus can be grafted on the top in this perfect shape. The colorful cactus top receives nutrients from the stem cactus on the bottom. The grafted cactus will survive as long as you take care of it properly.
How to Grow a Moon Cactus
It’s simple to grow a Hibotan or star-flower cactus. A moon cactus, like any succulent or cactus, needs the same level of care as a grafted cactus. Don’t over-water it and make sure both pieces are always attached are the most essential care instructions for keeping your moon cactus thriving. Let’s take a closer look at how to care for this little cactus plant.
How Much Light Does Moon Cactus Need?
A moon cactus thrives in bright, diffused sunlight. It has red and yellow stems. The top cactus is grafted and can tolerate some shade, but it does not flourish in direct sun. Most cactus species prefer bright sunlight for their green stems. You’ll need the correct proportion of light to grow a healthy moon cactus.
A bright spot in your home is the ideal place for a moon cactus. Plenty of bright light and restricted direct sunlight will be provided by an east- or west-facing windowsill. To avoid plant damage, keep your moon cactus away from the window if it’s in a south-facing room.
Move your ruby ball cactus away from the sun if you see areas turning white (bleached) or forming scars. Being in too much sunlight is another reason for a plant to turn yellow.
Water Requirements for a Grafted Cactus
Moon cacti are drought-tolerant, so keep it in well-draining soil and don’t overwater it. When the potting medium is nearly dry, it’s time to water your colorful plant. Pouring enough water through the ground to drain through the bottom when you water. Deep watering is the name given to this procedure.
Air temperature and humidity determine how often a moon cactus needs to be watered. You might have to water your tiny cactus every week in the summer, however always check the soil for moisture before doing so. You may skip watering your plant during the fall and winter. Therefore, make sure that the potting mix is completely dry throughout the winter. Misting your cactus houseplants on occasion may help them stay healthy.
Allow the cactus potting substrate to get soggy or mushy, which is the absolute worst thing you can do. Root rot will occur if you over-water your plant. Before returning the pot to its tray after extensive watering, let all water drain out. Water that collects inside your pot will resurface in the earth, causing moisture concerns if it is left in a dish or saucer.
Temperature for Moon Cactus
Moon cactus thrives in bright indirect light and grows best in temperatures of around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to provide shade from the scorching sun while placing your Hibotan plant near a window to give it the heat it needs. Temperatures of 64°F to 77°F (18 – 25°C) are ideal for star-flower cacti. The Gymnocalycium mihanovichii cactus has distinct care requirements when it comes to temperature, much like the moon cactus does. The moon cactus’s stem is tougher than its blooming, gorgeous crown.
If you live in USDA zone 10 or 11, you may successfully grow a moon cactus outdoors. To cultivate your cactus garden, look for a sunny spot in your yard with some shade. You may move your cactus pots outdoors in the summer if you reside in temperate zones.
Return the plants inside after the nighttime temperature starts to drop in the autumn. Keep your moon cactus away from chilly breezes, such as open windows and air conditioning, and direct heat while growing it indoors. Remember that temperatures below 48°F (9°C) are fatal to moon cacti.
Humidity for Grafted Cacti
When it comes to moisture requirements, grafted cactus with pink top is a breeze. Cactus houseplants thrive in humid environments. They can, however, tolerate low humidity levels as well. The most vital soil advice is to always make sure that there’s no moisture before adding.
You may spray the cactus tops occasionally to keep them pink, red, orange, or yellow. Misting allows moisture to be retained in the soil while at the same time maintaining it dry. Mist the cactus throughout the winter to keep humidity levels up. You should not water your moon cactus plants from October to February.
Feeding a Moon Cactus
A ruby ball cactus can be grafted and have a red top. The soil should provide ample nutrients if you use a high-quality cactus mix. Monthly fertilization, on the other hand, may help your grafted cactus flourish during its growing season. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to mix an organic-based cactus fertilizer.
Before each monthly feeding, flush the soil with fresh water. Water your cactus plant thoroughly before doing this. Use four times the pot’s volume in water. Before adding the cactus fertilizer, allow the water to drain completely.
The accumulation of mineral salts inhibits cactus development, so soil flushing is essential. A weak plant or yellowing may be caused by too much fertilizer. During the fall or winter, do not feed your moon cactus.
How to Pot a Moon Cactus
Most cacti and succulents, including ruby ball cactus, seldom require repotting (in the left picture). When they’re slightly rootbound, these hardy cacti thrive. When the roots of a colorful cactus begin to protrude through the drainage holes of its pot, it’s time to repot it.
Pick a new container that’s just a bit bigger. Late spring or early summer are the best seasons to repot your brightly colored cactus. How to grow a moon cactus:
- Thoroughly water your cactus a week before you plan to repot it.
- Remove the moon cactus by pulling up the green rootstock carefully, avoiding to dislodge the colorful tip. When soil has mostly dried out, it’s safe to do so.
- Inspect for dead or diseased roots after removing excess soil.
- If necessary, prune damaged roots.
- Fill a fresh pot halfway with high-quality, organic cactus soil.
- Make sure the cactus is placed at the same height as before.
- Gently press the soil against the rootstock in the pot before filling it with potting mix.
- Place in a well-lit area that is not visible to the sun.
To avoid the possibility of root rot, don’t water your cactus for seven days. Before watering the soil well, wait until it has dried out. Cactus growth will be boosted, and your moon cactus plant’s lifespan will be extended, thanks to the new soil.
Caring for a Moon Cactus in Winter
In the winter, leaving a ruby ball cactus alone is the best way to care for it. Cacti, for example, are succulents that don’t need any upkeep throughout the winter. During the months of September through October until February or March, do not water or feed your plant.
In the winter, keeping the temperature warm enough for a moon cactus is critical. Exposing a moon cactus to below-freezing temperatures may result in its death. To avoid any risk of harming the plant, always keep it above 48°F (9°C).
Propagating a Moon Cactus
However, it is feasible to graft offsets to a new rootstock and grow moon cactus plants. You may need to learn some grafting skills in order to extend the lifespan of your ruby ball cactus. Grafting a healthy G. can also be done. If you want to make your own, distinct kind of cactus, use mihanovichii with a robust Hylocereus.
How to re-graft a moon cactus
When the gleaming tip of a moon cactus starts to separate from the green stock, it’s time to re-graft it. To keep your moon cactus healthy, follow these steps:
- Cut the bright top section off the cactus with a sterilized knife.
- Remove the top portion of the green stock.
- On both sides of the cactus rootstock and colored cactus ball, look for a circle of vascular tissue.
- Line up the two vascular rings on the two sections of cacti.
- Put rubber bands around the pot’s bottom and on top of the cactus ball to keep it in place.
- After a few weeks, the two portions of the cactus should join to create a complete plant.
Pruning a Ruby Ball (Moon) Cactus
A mature moon cactus plant will begin to produce offsets when it is yellow and has numerous offsets. They’re little cactus plants that look like ruby balls. These can be pruned off the main plant. Follow the grafting technique described in the preceding care section to propagate a new moon cactus.
Moon Cactus (Ruby Cactus) Flowers
The brightly colored flowers of the ruby ball cactus are a kind of flowering cactus plant. The grafted colorful cactus is often mistaken for a red or yellow cactus blossom, but it’s actually part of the plant. A well-cared-for moon cactus may create lovely blossoms under the right circumstances.
What do moon cactus blossoms look like? At the end of a short stem, small red, pink, or white blooms appear. Late in the spring or early in the summer, cactus blooms. They develop from the colorful cactus pinnacle, not the green rootstock.
Moon Cactus Care: Common Problems
The most frequent concerns that plague moon cacti are water, moisture, and humidity. Root rot (too much water) or a withered plant (not enough water) can both occur if the watering isn’t correct. So, check to see if you’re watering your moon cactus properly if you notice it’s dying and turning yellow.
Another explanation for why your ruby ball cactus is yellowing is too much sunlight. If the cactus plant has been in direct sunlight for too long, you might also see white scars. Move your cactus out of the sun if this is the situation. Moon cacti do well in the shade, despite not being a low-light cactus.
If your moon cactus is turning brown, what does that mean? Root rot caused by over-watering is the most common cause of a cactus that becomes brown. Repot the cactus as soon as possible to save it from dying due to damaged roots. When the soil has nearly dried out, water your cactus. Your moon cactus will preserve its brilliant bright colors for several years if you treat it well.